"I am charged to assure you, that means will be found (by the American Congress) to establish your freedom..........., in the fullest and amplest manner"
Benjamin Franklin to "the good people of Ireland" Oct. 4, 1778
"Patriots of Ireland; champions of liberty in all lands, be strong in hope. Your cause is identical with mine. You are calumniated in your day. I was misrepresented by the Loyalists in my day. Had I failed, the scaffold would be my doom. But now my enemies pay me honor. Had I failed I would deserve the same honor. I stood true to my cause, even when victory had fled. In that I merited success. You must act likewise"
George Washington at Mt. Vernon, 1788
If we have credance in the accounts of the navigation of St. Brendon, coming down to us from the middle of the sixth century, The Scandinavian Historians of that period called what is now Nova Scotia and New England, "Ireland the Great", we have to acknowledge that the Irish appeared on our shores at a remote date.
The historian, Navarette, has published the records of the first voyage of Columbus, which are still preserved in Spain, giving the names and addresses of those who accompanied the great navigator. We find the name, William the Irishman, of Galway, Ireland on that list. The Irish sailor was left with others on the island of San Salvador when Columbus returned to Spain and was subsequently slain by the Indians. Thus, we find that a son of Erin was one of the first to shed his blood in the conquest of America.
There were two Irishmen on the Mayflower - William Mullens and Christopher Martin, and Pricilla, the fair damsel who so cleverly cativated the heart of John Alden, was the daughter of the Irishman Mullens
The Irish heart has ever been sympathetic with suffering humanity. America's case in colonial days was in many respects, that of Ireland. The Irish sympathized with the colonists, and we have evidences of that sympathy as early as the seventeenth century. During "King Philip's War" (1675 - 1676) which was a war waged with the Indians, many of the inhabitants of Massachusetts, Conneticut and Rhode Island perished. Homes and crops destroyed, and misery and famine followed in the wake. All Europe heard of the suffering borne by the colonists, but only Ireland heeded "the echo of their wailing cry." In Ireland, the "Katherine" was fitted out as a relief ship, and sailed from Dublin for Boston August 28, 1676. History does not record what the cargo of the "Katherine" was, which is spoken of in the Massachusetts Bay Colony records as the "Irish Donation," but judging from the fact that the Lord Mayor of Dublin sent three commissioners to take charge of the distribution and the fact that the cost of transportation amounted to 475 pounds sterling, we are led to believe that it was very large. Just how many of the colonists in Connecticut and Rhode Island shared in this relief, we do not know, but in Massachusetts alone, 47 towns and 2,351 persons were succored.
Was the war of Independence won for America by the Irish??
We answer that by quoting from a contemporary Englishman, Honorable Luke Gardiner, afterwards Lord Mountjoy, who declared in the British Parliament at the close of the American Revolution: "America was lost by the Irish emigrants." This seems to be the same sentiment as that expressed by King George III when hearing of the successes of the Irish Brigade under the leadership of Lafayette: "Cursed", said he,"be the laws that deprived me of such subjects."
It was John Sullivan, son of John Sullivan of Limerick and Margery Sullivan of Cork, Ireland, who struck the first blow of the Revolution, by capturing the military stores at Newcastle, four months before the historic skirmish at Lexington. He was a member of the famous Sullivan Family which furnished three governors for the new Republic. The mother of these governors used to tell in her old age, how she often worked in the fields, carrying the governor of Massachusetts while the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont tagged at her skirts.
The five stalwart sons of Maurice O'Brien, who was born in Cork, Ireland, hearing of the battle of Lexington, with the aid of a few townsmen struck the first blow upon the water for American Independence May 11, 1775, by setting out in O'Brien's lumber schooner and capturing the British armed schooner "Margaretta." Immediately after taking the "Margaretta", they used her in capturing the "Diligence" and the "Tapniquish," the two British cruisers coming to her rescue, and not yet satisfied, the O'Brien's then defeated a full squadron of England's largest vessels including a frigate, a twenty gun corvette, a brig of sixten guns and several armed schooners which had been dispatched fr Halifax to crush them. James Fenimore Cooper speaking of the exploit of the O'Brien's had this to say: "This affair was the Lexington of the seas, for, like the celebrated conflict, it was the rising of the people against a regular force - was characterized by a long chase, a bloody struggle and a victory. It was the first blow struck on the water after the American Revolution actually commenced."
In the same month, Matthew Lyon, born in Wicklow, Ireland, serving with Ehan Allen, captured the British vessels in the first battle fought on Lake Champlain. Lynn afterward represented three distinct states in the lower house of Congress - Vermont, Kentucky and Arkansas, and cast the vote which made Thomas Jefferson President of the United States.